Teaching In Socks

November 10, 2008, 1:59 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Ako in Fall

I took this cold, cloudy Monday as an opportunity to a little Fall cleaning. I think the results of this process were successful enough to finally unveil the contents of my “apartment” to the demanding public (aka. Hi Grandma!).

Before we begin, it should be noted that I am of the opinion that the term “apartment” is a bit grandiose to describe my living space. This is more of a glorified dorm room, with Japanese instructions written all over it. In summation, I have one window, one table and only two western-style chairs. Does this seems meager compared to previous living standards? Perhaps, but do I really need more than this? As cinematic Samurai Sanjuro once said “a long life eating ricegruel is the best“”

The Hygiene Hub

This is the area of the apartment that makes me presentable. The shower-sink combination is nice. You just close the door and the room is your shower. I don’t really use the tub because it’s square-shaped and my body is allergic to crouching.

I initially had some concerns regarding the way the bathroom area is compartmentalized- toilet in its own room, shower and sink in the butt– but it seems to causes only a minor inconvenience. Specifically, when I have recently taken a shower but need to wash my hands while wearing socks. I have to ballerina it to avoid a damp socks predicament  Presumably the nature of this problem arises I’m not “doing it right”. Apparently the proper method for avoiding damp socks involves buying a pair of shower sandals– a staple in Japanese households, the Japanese love their sandals. I, however, stopped wearing shower sandals in 2005 when I and the Tulane University decided that I wasn’t a college freshman anymore. Thus, now I’m just a sophisticated gentleman with occasionally wet socks.

Kitchen Hall

Not much to brag about here. It’s more of a hallway with sink jammed in the middle of it. I don’t have a conventional oven, but the toaster oven gets daily use, and lately I have been cooking on the range–mostly for sport, I like a challenge. I think the miniature theme is most noticeable here than any other section of the apartment. It’s a bit like trying to live in a Disney ride. Amusing but  the gimmick wears thin rather quickly.

The Life-Space Extreme

This room is primarily what I am paying for; it takes all the concepts of the combined all-purpose room, combines the fun and excitement of a bedroom, and then jams them together to scale. Still, I can fit all of my possessions inside–which really the big (no pun intended) paradox of this room. Actual living space: about 150 sq ft. However, I have two closets and a rather substantial storage space underneath my bed; it’s completely disproportionate–almost letter worthy. I could live in the living space and rent out the storage space to roommate, he’d just have to comfortable sleeping in a giant cupboard.

The dining space is minuscule, but it’s not as if the kitchen lends itself to cooking for and entertaining large groups of people. Nothing is missed here.

The Communications center, or “Comm Center(” television and computer), is fantastic. However the CTU protocol setup is not by choice, but rather by necessity. As modern as Japan maybe, the number of electrical outlets (3) and placement of them seems a bit under-thought and hasty. In fact, the Communications Hub my be a fire hazard, I’m not sure about what’s an acceptable maximum ratio of plugs to outlets, 30:1?

Candy and Calligraphy
October 8, 2008, 3:57 pm
Filed under: Japan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
One small fold for mankind

One small fold for mankind (via Pinktentacle)

First, I just want to say I think it’s cool that I live in a country that look up at the stars and wonders, how can we get origami up there. These ships are going to be thrown towards earth from the ISS.

Now to content:

My experience living in New York with a cleaner than usual roommate has left me damaged (read: civilized). Suddenly, it’s never clean enough any more. I even dusted the other day. In the near future, I promise to share the the details of my “apaato” with you, but in the meantime i haven’t been able to keep it up to Home & Garden photography standards (sorry, Grandma). Sadly, it constantly looks like someone lives here of something.

In the meantime, my mom went retro-summer camp style and sent me a packed stocked with Halloween candy. The amount of candy contained in this package was daunting and surpassed my best candy consuming abilities. Plus, I have a duty to instigate a little cultural exchange with my students from time to time. Apparently this is part of what they pay for.

Thus, I took potion of the stash  into school to share. Specifically, I took the jumbo bag of DOTS–sporting a ghost/”invisible mystery flavor” theme for the season. In retrospect, I see it was a bit cruel and perhaps and error of judgment on my part to try and pass along something with “mystery flavor” theme to my students. In my defense, certain items at the grocery store would convince one that nothing, let alone a :mystery theme” could inspire culinary shyness in a Japanese person.

However, this is exactly what happened. I admit was put off a bit when they approached it with the same reaction I approach Japanese candy. It was like watching Superman encounter Kryptonite for the first time.  They found the packaging a bit intimidating, and most of them cautiously took timid half-bites into the individual DOTS and reacted with a variety of faces. It was a winner with some of the students, but they all had an opinion to share. The stickiness of the candy certainly was a talking point.

I guess it was a bit ethnocentric of me to expect them to worship this as the gold standard of candy. Also, I was thrown because Japan is a gel/food culture. I think this has to do with their fish-centric diet. In this respect, DOTS are perhaps the most Japanese of the canon of classic American candies. Perhaps, the medium is the message, and that medium full of English writing, mystery flavors, and only semi-goofy pictures of cartoon ghosts says “strange” to my students.

I suppose i might end up bearing the weight of making sure this candy does not go to waste. There might be a number of nights during the next month that I end up like good ol’ Hariett . Pray for me to make it until All Saints Day.

This week I have also undertaken the task of learning Hiragana. It’s one of three Japanese systems of writing, and perhaps the easiest of the three. It’s phonetically based, which is nice. I’m enjoying the process. Today, one of my students was giving me some help when she decided she wanted to figure out a couple of ways to write my name in Kanji (a pictograph system of writing). She could only think of one symbol for “Te” which was the symbol for “Hand. The two options she gave me for “Do” (there is no ending “d” sound in Japanese”) were the symbols for “sand” or “door”.  So there you go, I am either “hand sand” or “hand door”. I think those both suit me well.

And now, “sophisticated” Britons let loose in Japan: